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Department of Psychology

Faculty and Staff Directory

Nicole Zarrett

Title: Professor
Department Chair
Department: Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-576-8442
Office: Barnwell College, Room 241
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]

Department of Psychology
Nicole Zarrett


Dr. Zarrett is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina and the Co-Director of the Behavioral Medicine Research group. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Developmental Science at the University of Michigan in 2006. After earning her degree she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University.

Her scholarship has broadly focused on optimizing on the contextual affordances of key youth settings for promoting healthy physical, psychosocial, and achievement-related developmental pathways from childhood through adolescence and early adulthood. This work involves both basic and applied research and has involved using innovative methodologies and novel translational intervention designs to target the needs and interests of underrepresented groups (e.g., disparities by minority status, socioeconomic status, gender, region, developmental disability), with the goal of generating sound theoretical inferences and practical applications that will be useful to researchers, policy makers and other youth advocates.

Over the past decade, she has conducted large community-based randomized controlled trials that capitalize on afterschool programs as ideal settings for promoting youth physical activity for long-term mental and physical health. Her research has been consistently funded by NIH (NICHD, NINR, NHLBI) as well as the John Templeton Foundation and Women’s Sports Foundation.



Specific research interests include:

  • The role of out-of-school activities in promoting healthy developmental pathways
  • The promotion of healthy behaviors and attitudes, adolescent obesity prevention and intervention
  • The effects of community, school, family, peers, and personal factors, on youth choices, motivation, and adjustment
  • Multilevel systems theory and the coupling of variable- and pattern-centered methodological approaches to maximize understanding of youth in context, and the conceptualization of developmental stability and change.

Dr. Zarrett's nationally funded program of research has focused on developing innovative, theoretically-based physical activity interventions that promote adolescent health and well-being. In collaboration with strong community partnerships, this research involves leveraging the resources and supports of key youth settings (e.g., schools, after school programs, families) and change agents (e.g., teachers, program staff, parents) to address the needs and interests of youth from low-income, marginalized communities. 

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Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.